Editor’s Note: Give Your Children The Gift of Free Play

Lynch-fade-Good news for parents. Research shows that one of the best things you can do for your children has nothing to do with advanced tutors, specialized coaching or expensive technology.
In fact, it’s free – in every meaning of the word.
We’re talking about free, spontaneous play, the kind that kids have pursued for eons.
Stuart Brown, a trained clinical and research psychiatrist now in his 80s, has pioneered exploration into the importance of play, not just for children but throughout the life span.
Brown founded the National Institute of Play in California where he has studied the effects of play on humans and in the animal world.
On the Institute’s web site, Brown posts the following claim:
“Play is the gateway to vitality. By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community.”
What parent wouldn’t want that outcome for his child?
And the beauty is all you have to do as a parent is get out of the way and let your kids play.
In linking play to empathy, Brown says that when children interact with others in voluntary play they learn that actions have consequences. Hit a friend, for instance, and he probably won’t want to play anymore.
Brown also emphasizes that play is not for children only. Adults of all ages need to play. A life without fantasy, humor, flirtation and games is a bleak one.
“The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression,” he said during a recent TED Talk.
Since play is good for everyone in the family, it follows that making play a priority is healthy.
So while the kids are outside playing, parents can feel free to pursue their own passions that bring them joy.
That sounds like fun for the whole family.